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Turns out, Obama's busy deficit commission has a deficit of transparency too

May 6, 2010 |  2:22 am

a large mine representing the deepening US federal deficit

More opaque transparency this week in Washington.

President Obama's Deficit Commission is meeting again. The formal name, given the president's penchant for reform, is the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (NCOFRAR).

That's the bipartisan panel he appointed in February to devise ways to cut Social Security and other entitlements while raising taxes to cover his exploding federal government deficit problem compounded by all the other administration spending since he took office and a bunch from before?

Some silly people think the deficit is like a big yawning hole in the ground. And they feel badly about leaving future generations to pay for debts so incredibly immense that civilian calculators do not have room for all the digits.

So the favored solution for such uncomfortable D.C. problems among many White Houses is to....

...appoint an allegedly bipartisan coalition of the willing to write up a bound report listing the solutions that everybody knows are out there already but no one desiring reelection has the, uh, gumption to actually pronounce.

Like Obama, they appoint some old rich guys who know how Washington works, aren't ever running again and give them some momentary prestige, staff and expenses to figure out the obvious.

Obama has ordered his commission to come up with its suggestions in December. It's probably a mere coincidence, but December is the month after the November midterm elections.

That way every one of the majority Democrats in both houses facing electoral unemployment on Nov. 2 can honestly answer angry voters all autumn by saying, "Of course, no one wants more taxes. Goshdarnit, we're all just stuck here waiting for the commission's recommendations."

So, anyway, the hole-in-the-ground commission had its first meeting in public last week to gInternal Revenue Service Logoet the television coverage.

And now that the nation is focused on how yet another no-fly-guy got into a seat on a flying machine after nearly creating yet another man-caused disaster, the deficit commission has quietly gone behind closed doors.

As in, Keep Out.

However, the ever-alert Dan Froomkin over at HuffingtonPost, was on sentry duty.

He and some others on both sides of the political spectrum have this crazy notion that since the commission's findings are going to affect just about every working American and a whole bunch now retired, the commission's deliberations really ought to be held in public -- as in open or transparent for at least C-SPAN to see.

The concern is that American government is supposed to be representative and representatives shouldn't be doing anything they're ashamed of voters seeing. Therefore, secrecy is a pretty bad thing, as Sen. Obama patiently explained to all of us so often during the transparent 2007-08 election seasons.

However, the concern by Froomkin and many others -- maybe even some of you -- turns out to be merely a false alarm. Nothing to it. A figment of journalistic imaginations. Just a bureaucratic dealy that citizens really shouldn't bother their busy heads about.

The commission's executive director, Bruce Reed, explains that by sealing many of the sessions to outside scrutiny before crucial elections, he's really just thoughtfully trying to protect the public from exposure to the commission's many "boring meetings."

"Sometimes," Reed patiently explains, "members want to have a boring meeting just by themselves."

So, move along, folks. Keep going. Obviously, nothing to see here.

Until December.

Related items:

Joe Biden update: He meets on transparency, but the meeting is closed

Transparent Obama White House not so transparent

Top Secret: Obama rejecting more Freedom of Info requests than Bush

C-SPAN pleads for open healthcare negotiations -- unsuccessfully

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press

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